Old age is not for sissies…

Grandpa's Sunset Photo
One of grandpa’s many Africa photos (and my favorite). This slide won him a local award. (Pardon the glare. I dared not take the photo out of the frame…)

…is the hat my grandfather wore quite often for I think a good 10/15 years, if memory serves. I love it. My grandfather passed away about a week and a half ago and we had the memorial service about a week ago. He was 87 years old and was a few days shy of his 63 year anniversary with my grandma. One of the things my grandfather was best at was his photography, so I went walking around the house with Rylee looking for some of his photos to take home.

As I was doing this, I started having lots of flashbacks to the times in this house. My grandparents moved out to Yucca when I was only 5 or so [I can’t even remember, it was just a given that they were there]. He inspired me in so many way.

I think the very fact that him and grandma were so close gave me the desire to have my kids close to at least one set of grandparents. We made sure to do this once we had kids so they could experience the fun of having grandma and grandpa nearby.

Grandpa inspired me to see the world. They went on trips nearly every year shortly after my dad and uncle had left the house. There is a HUGE map in their sun room with pinpoints for all the places they’ve been. Their house is littered with items, small and large, from the various countries. Grandpa knew the people of each place I think more than the sites. He really focused on taking pictures of the people and their lives. Sometimes those also mingled with the major sites, such as a great picture of a couple of ladies chatting eagerly in front of the Taj Mahal in India.

He created slide shows from all of his trips, but these weren’t the boring ones you fall asleep to. He even figured out the timing on the slides and wrote up narration to go with them. After showing his slide show of his first trip to Africa in my brother’s second grade class, the teacher was so impressed she asked him to come back and do it every year. It became a staple of her “Africa week” that she did with her curriculum. After his second trip there, he actually asked me to do the narration, since he was writing is from the perspective of a 9 year old boy living in Africa. There is still a little “Jomo” inside of me that perks up every time I hear the name Africa.

To date, I’ve only been to France (twice) but just that small experience was immeasurably valuable to me. Down the road Jen and I [maybe the kids too or we’ll wait until they leave for college 8^D] will do the same.

Grandpa loved grandma with all his soul. He was known as a man with “little veneer” on his skin, so he wold come off as being “grumpy.” What was even more fun was the way grandpa and grandma would banter back and forth. She was probably the only woman that wasn’t intimidated by it. 8^D You realized though through that banter that the only thing grandpa was worried about was grandma’s well being, and she always smiled after their little “discussions” because she knew exactly that. I pray that when Jen and I are that old we’ll have the same “discussions.”

Grandpa always wanted to “offer you some free advice” even though “nobody wants free advice anymore.” [his words precisely, I heard them so much] I would be anything from saving money, to how to drive, to where to go to by the best X. What I think grandpa failed to realize was that I took that free advice very seriously. I think the most profound thing he told me one day was that the things you ultimately need are food, shelter, and health, so why bother bying some elaborate car when you could use that money for more, and better quality food. I still keep this in mind to this day.

The profound paradox with death is that through Christ, he lives on. I’m sure he may be trying to offer free advice to Paul or John up in heaven and I’m sure they’re getting a big kick out of that. More importantly, he’ll be seeing his son, my father, who he hasn’t seen in a good 10 years or so. I’m sure they have a lot of catching up to do. These facts give my soul a smile, but only while the tears stream over the face of it all the same. I miss grandpa already. It will be hard going to visit my mom and seeing the house next door, which is empty, and eventually will be lived in by somebody I don’t know. All the same there is peace through it all. Rest now grandpa. You’ve finished the race and kept the faith. The rest of the family will eventually be there too.

Grandpa's Egypt Photo
My second favorite picture of Grandpa’s. I don’t know if the carvings at the pyramids are still in this good of shape.

2 thoughts on “Old age is not for sissies…

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